So a week ago I managed to relearn what respect really means.

Ok, so for the moment I am volunteering at a hostel here in Portugal. Because of this, I have the chance to meet a ton of new and awesome people almost every day.

As I already mentioned, a week ago I met someone who’s still in my mind. She was on my mind after the first time she decided to share her life’s story with us, the people who were in the hostel, that night.

This girl, let’s call her “Pearl”, she is incredible. She felt secure enough to share with us private things about her life. She is only 20 years old and she went through some heavy shit in her life…  She told us how her mother was a crack addict, but she managed to get off it before her mother got pregnant with her. She has a smaller brother who also went through those things. She also told her that her father is in prison and she grew only with her bipolar mum.

She is the most tough girl that I met so far. She is also very, very modest and she considers that she didn’t do anything special. Excuse me, but at 16 to have the strength to deal with a bipolar mother who has all kind of mental break downs, that’s quite a lot.
She told us  that one evening her mother had a breakdown and she or her brother couldn’t do anything to calm her, only to leave her alone. The next day, when she and her brother came back from school they found her in the middle of the room rocking back and forth.
Just try to imagine how it would be for you to go through something like that, and then realize that a small 16 years old girl went through that, and she came up alright.

I say that “Pearl” came out right, because she lived in a very sketchy environment and she could’ve easily “find a way out” through drugs, prostitution, or something like that.
But she didn’t! She f***ing didn’t! She got a job in a hospital. A type of nurse that cleans and move patients around. And not any type of patients, but old and semi-paralyzed ones. She did that for 2 years, if I remember right, and she didn’t complain. She said she had to get out of that situation and that’s how she did it, by working and studying in order to be independent. A 16 years old kid, wiping old peoples asses everyday(not that a job like that is in any way degrading!) and trying her best to look after herself, her brother and mother. Well that’s what I call respect.

And now she’s an amazing, energetic and fun girl who finished college and wants to go back and rescue her brother. Unfortunately, she told us that her brother found another escape, through drugs and now she wants to help him get clean.

How awesome and pure can someone be?

You know, we always complain about how tough our childhoods or lives were, but sometimes a person like “Pearl” could show you how lucky you were.

Of course, we cannot compare the feeling of being “hurt”. If anyone felt hurt it felt like that, and “Pearl’s” pain wasn’t bigger or lower than anyone’s else, but still…

So after the night she shared her life with us, she was on my mind. I felt so small compared with her, thinking of how much I complained about my life and so on…

I will remember “Pearl” and the spark from her eyes probably my whole life. She really opened my eyes and made me think.

Thank you very much, Pearl!

Hope to see you again!